Lubatowa – Wisloczek

e8 kaart lubatowa

Stage no. 75
Date Tuesday 22 April 2014
Distance stage      17,0 km
Distance acum. 2787,5 km
Quality of signs very good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

After travelling for more than 12 hours from home I arrive in Lubatowa for a six day hiking trip. This trip should enable me to finalize the E8 in Poland.

I start at 15.10 in front of the small grocery shop. After passing the church I turn right, up the hill towards Zdroj. The weather is nice with some hazy sunshine and warm temperatures. The views to the west and south are very nice.

Nice view back to Lubatowa

Nice view back to Lubatowa

The road is easy just like the crossing of Iwonicz Zdroj, where many tourists are enjoying the weather and the tulips in the flowerbeds. After leaving the village in the forrest the path goes up the hill. There are some simple shelter-roofs built along the path, which should accomodate some hikers, even during a bivouac. While passing Rymanow Zdroj it seems this is even more touristic that its twin village; there are several outlets selling snacks along the road. The path leaves the road and goes up the hill. After leaving the forrest I pass a picknick spot where many wooden statues are stored. The path continues through the fields, up the hill.

Nice view back to Zdroj

Nice view back to Zdroj

After reaching the forrest again the path goes down the hill, to the road near the village of Wisloczek. After crossing two creeks I reach the road, and leave the E8 by turning right to Wisloczek.

I spend the night in a cozy cabin in Wisloczek, managed by one of the B&B addresses in the village. My host tells me that in the summer season there is a hikers camp situated near the creek. Hikers can put up their own tent and stay for the night, or rent a place in the big tent that is put up there.

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Barwinek – Lubatowa

e8 kaart barwinek

Stage no. 74
Date Monday 3 June 2013
Distance stage     32,0 km
Distance acum. 2770,5 km
Quality of signs very good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

Today is supposed to be an exciting day: it is my First Polish stage in the E8, and there is no formal E8-section from where I am now in the next 21 kilometers. There is a local hiking trail though, that leads the way to the E8-signs. I wake up at 4.00, just before a huge rain shower starts outside. I leave the B&B at 5.00am.

It still drizzles a bit when I walk back to the main road. I go left to Barwinek, and after some searching for a sign I go right (the first road after the bus stop). I follow the green local signs to the small village of Zyndranowa, and I continue my way up the hill. Everything in the woods is soaken wet, including my shoes. It has started to rain again, so the prospects for today are not very promessing. Going up the slope of the Czerwony Horka hill is comfortable, it’s not steep. I continue my way to the next hill, the Ostra, which is getting more steep and slippery. After passing the top the path goes downhill to the small river and follows this to the village of Stasiane. There is small, bare, camping location along the road, but it is completely fludded. No, there are no campers. I continue along the main road, still following the green signs. I pass a regular camping site, where even some tents and caravans are located, before I cross the very busy road between Barwinek and Dukla. On the other side of the road there is a clear sign that indicates the path to continue up the hill. Without too much signs I follow some tracks up the hill, crossing some trees, and some open fields. I end up in the forrest of the Dziurcz hill, and consequently the Czertez hill. On some steep parts of the hills it is extremely slippery and I end up with many mud stains on my raincoat to proove it. The trail up on this ridge is very clear, well maintained and the signs are very good. However, due to the trees and bushes I am not able to look any further ahead than some 50 meters. This makes it a bit tiresome to walk, and my pace goes down automatically.  After a long while the signs indicate to go down the hill on the right hand side, which turns out to be a very steep slope, covered with chopped trees and branches. After this section the green signs join the red signs that indicate the E8-Trail again. I follow these to the little church in the woods at Pustelnia sw Jana. I arrive there at 12.10, I have some chcolate bars for lunch and I try to get my socks dry, now that it has stopped raining.

trying to get dry feet

trying to get dry feet

I follow the red signs down the hill, but while crossing an open field I loose sight of them, and I decide to continue down the hill straight on, down to the valley, which is some 150 meters below me. I arrive near the main road between Barwinek and Dukla again, the red signs join me 50 meters later on, and I follow them consequently to the east, up the hill to the top of the Cergowa. The first part of the climb is extremely slippery (almost: risky) due to the rain that has been pooring down during the past few days, and the clay soil on that part of the hill. The rest of the climb is not steep, and it is easy to maintain a steady pace. At the top of the Cergowa hill there is no visibilty due to the surrounding trees and the low hanging clouds. In the next few minutes down the hill the path passes some panoramic points that should give some nice views on bright days. The decent gets steep, still following excellent signs, but due to the forrest soil the path is not slippery. At the foot of the hill, where the soil is drenched with clay again the situation is very different; even the flat sections in the forrest are very slippery, and it is inevitable to get dirty, while walking, slipping, falling, etc. I meet a local guy in the forrest who’s looking for mushrooms and he assures me that I go in the right direction. After leaving the forrest I arrive on the main road, which I follow through the sunny fields, to the village of Lubatowa.

Sunny Poland

Sunny Poland

I decide not to continue for today, as there are dark clouds building up on the horizon.

This trip was very succesfull. Even though the circumstances were difficult I have been able to cover very good daily distances, the signs and paths in Poland are well maintained and the surroundings are more open than in the eastern part of Slovakia. I look forward to the next trip already.

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Ohla Hora – Barwinek (P)

e8 kaart olha hora

Stage no. 73
Date Sunday 2 June 2013
Distance stage     44,5 km
Distance acum. 2738,5 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

During the night it has continued to rain for while. Later on I can see stars between the overcast against the dark sky.

I get up at 3.45 and I leave the cabin at 4.15. My legs are stiff, and my shoes are still wet. After a few minutes I pass the top of the Ohla Hora hill, and I start my decent to Kurimka. I cross the creek and I arrive in the very small village. I follow the signs and go right on the very small main road that crosses this valley. After some 15 minutes a sign shows that I have to go left, up through the fields and trees to the Makovica hill. The ascent is not as steep as it looks on the map, and the path and the signs are well maintained. On top of the Makovica hill there is a covered picknick location, without any activity on this early Sunday morning. I follow the ridge to the southeast. On the top of the Cierna Hora hill there is a huge watchtower and a small refuge (not locked). The weather is a bit foggy, so I do not have to be tempted to climb the tower. I would not have done so, due to the safety of being alone on the way (the construction of the tower looks very robust, though). On the last hill of this ridge there is a nice view to the southwest, after which the decent to the city of Svidnik is uncomplicated and easy.

5795 olha hora

In Svidnik I buy food & beverage in a small shop along the Trail which I use for breakfast. At 9.45 I continue my hike, and after passing the war monument (it has a lot of resemblance with the Slavin monument in Bratislava) I go uphill through the fields. The last part of the climb is along an easy road, and consequently down the hill to the village of Nizna Jedlova. Following the signs I pass the village, and go right after the bus stop. The next two kilometers turn out to be very anoying: there are many signs but the path is unclear, or just covered with bushes, or mud. I rely heavily on my compass to guide me in the direction of the next village, Kapisova, and it leads me correctly over the wide fields that need to be crossed. Around noon I have a short lunchbreak in Kapisova and I continue by following the E8-signs along the main road northbound. During the next 7 kilometers I pass several ancient Russian tanks from the 2nd World War, left after the battles on the Dukla Pass, on the border between Slovakia and Poland. In the (tiny) village of Vysna Pizana I leave the road and follow the signs across the fields and woods to another small village, Medvedie. I continue eastbound, the final Slovakian kilometers have come! In the forrest between Medvedie and the last Slovakian village of Vysny Komarnik, I loose the signs and find out that I am going in the wrong direction by the time I am close to the Polish border. I decide to continue my way northbound and after 10 minutes I arrive on top of the ridge, which is for many kilometers the border between Slovakia and Poland. Along the border the E3 finds its way, and I follow these signs eastbound towards the Dukla Pass, where the main road crosses the border. This point is also the start/finish of the Slovakian section of the E8.

last E8-sign in Slovakia

last E8-sign in Slovakia

I arrive at the border at 17.00, and again no customs officer is interested, or even present, when I pass another border on my hike along the E8. I loose some time to find a smart way to go cross country to the village of Zyndranowa, and I end up walking along the main road to the Polish village of Barwinek. Following the blue signs (no E-route) I arrive at a B&B in the first street on the left from the Dukla Pass, some 10 minutes hike into Poland. The hosts speak German very well. I am happy that this day was so succesfull, and that it finishes with a nice, hot shower.

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Hervartov – Olha Hora

e8 kaart hervartov

Stage no. 72
Date Saturday 1 June 2013
Distance stage     38,0 km
Distance acum. 2694,0 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

After travelling through the Czech Republic to catch the famous night bus eastbound in Brno,  I arrive in the early morning in Hervartov, for three days of hiking pleasure along the E8.

Hervartov has not changed in the past 52 weeks. I take the inevitable picture of the wooden church and follow the road down the valley, and later uphill to the village of  Mihalov. The views to Hervartov in the south, behind me, are nice. On the other side of the hill, descending to Bardejov, the E8-signs stop where the path enters the regular road. I follow, according to the map, the regular road downhill to the city, and just at the beginning of the residential area of Bardejov the signs apear again. I pass a small weekmarket (mainly vegetables and fruits) and the famous, Unesco-awarded, ancient city centre. It is still early on the Saturday morning and I take some inevitable pictures of the, empty, square.

Ancient Central Square in Bardejov

Ancient Central Square in Bardejov

I continue northbound, after leaving the city through fields and trees to Bardejovske Kupele. It’s a small village full of various types of spa’s; some operational, some closed and worndown for many years. By then I have already soaken wet shoes due to the wet grass and bushes along the way. After leaving the village the ascent of the Magura Hill starts; in the beginning it’s easy, but after passing the Sedlo Ceresna Pass it gets much steeper. The condition of the path is not comfortable; the soil is slippery due to the rain and there are many plants and bushes that cover part of the path, due to backlogged maintenance. By the time I arrive at the top of the hill I am convinced that this is a complete useless waste of time and energy; there is no view at all from any part of the hill including the top, the path is uncomfortable to walk, and it leads to the next village of Zborov, where you can get a lot of easier by following the regular road from Bardejov. After the descent from the Magura Hill the path does use the regular road for some kilometers to get finally to Zborov, anyway. After crossing the village the Trail leads out of Zborov through the gipsy-quarter. There are no signs to be found in this part of town, but with the help of the friendly people I find a red arrow on the last Telephone stand at the end of the street. I go left up the hill where I have to walk another 15 minutes to find the next sign, which is not comfortable.

view on Zborov

view on Zborov

I continue my way to the village of Andrejova, in the final section crossing a huge field (no signs) with very wet vegetation. I try to find a place to stay for the night in Andrejova, but without succes. I continue my way up the hill, following the signs along the regular road. After 15 minutes or so the signs show to go right, straight up the hill through the fields. After a few minutes the path starts to cross a very dense forrest with very low hanging branches from the trees. I can not walk straight up all the time, and due to the high frequency of the trees there is hardly any daylight popping through the leaves, although it’s only 5.00pm or so. All of a sudden, with a blow, a huge downpour starts which creates an incredible noise from the leaves in the trees. Nevertheless, they prevent me from getting wet at all! Higher up the hill, still being able to follow the signs the forrest is less dense and I get my share of the rain. At some point the forrest road leads up the hill comfortably, but I realize that I have lost the signs again. I decide to walk straight east with my compass to arrive at the ridge of the hills where I should be able to pick up the Trail again. After some slipping and sliding, it is still raining cats and dogs, I arrive at the ridge, and after less than a minute the white-red-white signs pop up again, coming from the right (south, different from the drawning on the map!) and joining me on the ridge, southeast bound. The Trail follows the ridge, uneventfull, no views, and the rain keeps pooring down. At the foot of the Olha Hora hill, which is the first open section that you pass on the ridge, I seek shelter in a small hunters cabin; it’s small but dry. I decide to stay there for the night, not being motivated to walk any further through the pooring rain.

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Vel’ky Saris – Hervartov

e8 kaart velky saris

Stage no. 71
Date Wednesday 30 May 2012
Distance stage     32,0 km
Distance acum. 2656,0 km
Quality of signs reasonable
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, fields

I was up early. The nightguard was supposed to give me my breakfast, but he was nowhere to be found. At 3.30am I am back on the Trail again, on my way in the dark to the village of Kanas. This is well to do as the Trail uses the regular road. After crossing Kanas in the twilight I enter the First forrest section of today. I see some wild boar that are looking for their breakfast (fortunately they don’t consider me). In this first forrest section there is more path-finding to be done than you would expect from the drawings on the map; many junctions and parallel paths, but the signs sometimes go straight through the bushes and trees. Unnecessarily anoying.  After leaving the forrest I cross the fields and appear to have missed the right direction, and I end up walking along the regular road to the village of Terna, in stead of through the fields. In Terna I pick up the E8- signs again and continue my way to the village of Hradisko, and through the fields and the trees beyond. I end up at the pass Sedlo Cergov, where there are many small cabins and refuges, but they are all closed in the summer season.

Passing Sedlo Cergov

Passing Sedlo Cergov

 

The next kilometer is a special one: the E8-Trail is joining here the newly marked E3-Trail. The specialty is that on this section the E8 goes north/east to the Duklapass, and that the E3 that comes from the opposite direction leads south/east to the same Duklapass.  After a few minutes I meet two Slovakian hikers, on their trans-Slowakian-trail, from the Duklapass to Bratislava along the E8. We chat a little bit, about the conditions of the next few kilometers, and about the soccer game between Slovakia and the Netherlands that is being played this evening. Further down the path, the Trail uses the mountain ridge that leads straight north. At some point, after I have not seen signs for many minutes, there are white-red-white signs that lead to the east, downhill. I loose a lot of time not knowing how to continue, as I expect to have to follow the ridge for some time. This appears to be correct, in the end, after walking down a few minutes, going back, down again, etc. I decide to follow my compass and instincts and continue to follow the ridge, and after 5 minutes the next e*-sign shows me that I am correct. After an hour or so I end up at the forrestroad to leads me at the end of the ridge downhill; it is clearly identifiable, and steep. Down in the valley I loose the signs again and I continue my way through the fields to the next village, Hervartov. After a few minutes I arrive there and I am startled to see in the central square a very well kept ancient wooden curch. The E8-signs appear to cross the church compound directly, entering from the other side. On the other side of the square there is a simple inn where I am able to spend the night.

Oldest wooden church in Slovakia (16th century)

Oldest wooden church in Slovakia (16th century)

 

The inn-keeper lives a minute down the road, and after I called the number that was on the front door of the inn she shows up and signs me in. She gives me the telephone number of a pizza-delivery service (there is no restaurant or so in the very small village of Hervartov) and 25 minutes later I enjoy a salami pizza and two bottles of Coke. The next day I decide not to continue due to my blisters. The inn-keeper is also the keeper of the old church and she shows me around, together with a schoolclass of Slovakian 12-year olds. It’s very impressive, and I have the feeling that I am far from home.

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Kosice – Vel’ky Saris

e8 kaart kosice

Stage no. 70
Date Tuesday 29 May 2012
Distance stage     59,0 km
Distance acum. 2624,0 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike B ( very good): hills, fields, views

I arrived in Slovakia for a trip of three hiking days in my favorite time of the year: early summer, with long hours of daylight that enables you to move on. After flying to Bratislava I took the train to Trencin, where I have spent the evening, and where I got on the nightbus, eastbound.

At 04.00am sharp the bus arrives at the bus & railway station in Kosice. I take a taxi to the outskirts of Kosice where I pick up the Trail again in the morning twilight, at 04.15. The general direction of the Trail from Kosice is straight north, with some turns and curves here and there.  From Cermel the Trail goes uphill in stages, and the view that you have behind you, at Kosice and its surroundings, increases every few minutes. After crossing the open area, and spotting some foxes and deer, the Trail leads into the forrest. After passing a sign of a national park the trail is following a concrete wall of some 3 meters height for several kilometers. Just after map #136 ends the trail make a huge curve to the east, downhill towards Kysak. At the start of the descend there is a nice view on the valley below, situated high on the cliffs.

Great view!

Great view!

 

From the small map that I have printed from the internet I see in the deep the path where I will be walking in a few hours time. The trail crosses the town of Kysak, and leads consequently back west into the valley that you have been overviewing earlier on.

view back up to the cliff

view back up to the cliff

 

The path is not well taken care of and small bushes are making it not comfortable to walk. After turning north (uphill) the trail enters the bottom of map #115. I coincidentally discovered just a few days for  my trip that the section between map #136 and #115 is substantial, which is not obvious from the maps itself. In the forrest it is quite and peacefull enough to see some animals during the afternoon hours (like wild boar and deer) and it is easy to miss the exit to the right, which I do. Shortly after being on the right path again crossing a small creek is a challenge as the bridge lies ruined on the bank, but it is manageable to do it and keep your feet dry. Before arriving in the village of Lubovec the path crosses some accres where the signs are difficult to be found (at least for me). I make my orientation with the compass, the map and the transmission towers that I pass to make sure I am going in the right direction. After crossing Lubovec the Trail continues by using the regular road to the village of Radatice (dirty street, much waste). After Radatice the road is easy and straight, but the Trail decides to leave this comfort behind and continues through many curves, slopes and bushes in the same direction to the village of Cemjata. After loosing the signs in the forrest, I follow the regular road again (not very busy) and meet the white-red-white signs again just before passing Cemjata. The Trail continues to the next village, Zabijana, and then goes downhill into the open fields, crossing the national road from Presov to the west. Shortly after the Trail leads through the village of Maly Saris and consequently through the town of Velky Saris. The Trail passes the famous brewery near the railway station. Only a few minutes later I arrive at the holliday park where I have made a reservation for the night.

The only accomodation that was available was a fully equiped  family bungalow. The day was long and warm, and I have a few blisters under both my feet. I have covered today approximately 63km, of which 59km on the E8-Trail. The rest was extra excercise, due to missing signs or misinterpreting them. Tomorrow I want to get up early to make it another interesting day on the Trail.

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Zlata Idka – Kosice

Stage   no. 69
Date Sunday 9 October 2011
Distance stage      19,5 km
Distance acum. 2565,0 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, forrests

Today is the second day of my two-day hiking trip. As today’s stage is scheduled to finish in Kosice, which is not so far anymore, I can have breakfast at a decent hour. At the same time the first guests of the wedding party of last night are having their sandwiches and eggs as the start of the new day.

The weather is okay when I leave the hotel around 8.45am. There is a lot of overcast, but it is not expected to rain today. From Zlata Idka I walk up the hill again, back to the ridge of the hills that surround this valley. Once up on the ridge again, the Trail is easy to follow, also because the signs are in good quality. In the first hour of today’s hike there are a few hikers coming from the other direction. They have probabely stayed in the refuge Chata Lajoska. When I arrive there I take a break. There is much activity going on; people that have stayed the night are leaving, daytrippers are coming up from the valley, many mountainbikers are passing by, or just riding up and down to the refuge.

Chata Lajoska

After the Chata Lajoska it only gets easier. The Trail goes downhill, slowly or steep, more or less all the way to the city of Kosice. Just below the Chata there is a nice view all the way down to Kosice. Unfortunately, due to the situation of the city behind the hills, there is no more nice views in the next kilometers. At one third of the decent the Trail passes the refuge Chata Lahodna. It is situated next to the regular road, near a busstop, and surrounded by skiing facilities. There are many Sunday tourists up here for a walk or a ride. From the Chata Lahodna the path goes down the hill comfortably, to the Bankov Hill. From here you can have a nice view over the city of Kosice. It is very busy around here, the parking lots are full and there are buses driving up and down constantly. From Bankov the Trail continues east towards Cermel, the first residential area in the suburbs of Kosice.

Unfortunately, the Trail does not lead gloriously through the city centre, but leaves Cermel/Kosice immediately northbound. From Cermel I take a bus and a tram to get to the central railway station. I have a few hours to spend in Kosice as I will be taking the night train back to Bratislava.

Kosice

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Stos-Kupele – Zlata Idka

Stage   no. 68
Date Saturday 8 October 2011
Distance stage     26,0 km
Distance acum. 2545,5 km
Quality of signs good
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, forrests

I have travelled to Slovakia for a two-day hiking trip. After arriving yesterday afternoon in Bratislava the public transportation was able to get me as far as the city of Spisska Nova Ves. For today I have planned to take the bus in the early morning from Spisska Nova Ves to my starting point in Stoss-Kupele. Unfortnately I am waiting at the wrong bus stop for the bus to Stoss-Kupele, so I miss it. I change my plans immediately, as there is always a plan B, and I catch the train to Kosice, from where I take a bus to Stoss-Kupele.

It is just before 9.00am when I start in Stos-Kupele. The weather is okay for October; there’s a little bit of sunshine, and the temperature is comfortable. The first part of the stage goes uphill, from 600 meters in Stos-Kupele to the top of the Kloptan Hill at 1453 meters. The Path is well to do, a bit steep in the beginning, and signs are clear and sufficient. On the top of the Kloptan there is a watchtower, including a visitorsbook. By the time I get up there the weather is not so great anymore. There is more overcast coming in from the north.

sunbeam

From the Kloptan it only gets easier, first gently downhill and later on a little bit less gently. Although the biggest part of today’s stage is leading through forrests there are some nice views towards the south now and then. The plains in Hungary look very close by. which they are, at a distance of 25 kilometers only. While climbing uphill towards the refuge Chata Erika I meet one of the very few people that are in the hills today. In the middle of the forrest, high up on an isolated hill, he is mowing the grass. When I ask him what it is for, he explains (with hand and feet, as he speakes no English) that he is preparing the slopes for the winter time, when this area seems to be a hotspot for cross-country skiing.

Autumn in the Kosicky Hills

In the afternoon I pass the refuge Chata Erika. It is closed for reconstruction, but it is not noticeable that there is anything going on. From the refuge the climb up to top of the Kojsovska Hola starts. It is about 150 meters uphill, from the forrest out up on the plain and open top. The Trail does not lead to the top, but continous southeastbound just below the top of the hill. The last part of the stage is downhill to the village of Zlata Idka. Some sections are steep, but in general the decent is easy to do. The weather is improving, as the sun is getting more and more its way through the clouds. Just before 5.00pm I arrive after an easy day in Zlata Idka.

I have a reservation in the only hotel that I could find on the internet. The receptionist of the hotel told me, when I made the reservation this afternoon (along the Trail), that they do not have dinning facilities tonight due to a big wedding party that they have. When I ask for directions in the village it turns out that the hotel is known under a different name, and that it is still a few kilometers to get there. Slovakian villages in this part of the country are extremely wide spread, and Zlata Idka is just like that. I have dinner in a place that has a sign “bistro” on the outside but that has no resemblance to any cosy and intimate restaurant in Paris. The owner of the bistro turns out to be an Olympian (1992 and 1996) who is proud of his pictures and souvenirs from his glory days. He gives the directions how to get to the hotel. The way to the hotel, still some 25 minutes walking, is along the Trail. The night falls and I find out that there are a few other places to eat in the village along the Trail. It is very dark by the time I get to the hotel. It is not big, it is situated outside the village on the eastside where the forrest begins. The wedding party is loud, but not irritating, and it is not keeping me from having a good night sleep.

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Skalisko – Stos-Kupele

Stage   no. 67
Date Saturday 2 July 2011
Distance stage      28,0 km
Distance acum. 2519,5 km
Quality of signs bad
Quality of the hike C (good): hills, forrests

Today is my last day of my three-day hiking trip. I am in good spirits when I wake up (again very early) but I have my concerns about the poor quality of the signs in this part of the Trail. I leave the refuge just before sunrise in order to be able to use the daylight to the maximum extend from the top of the Skalisko onwards.

At 4.15am I am again up at the Skalisko, next to the big rock. According to the map the Trail follows the sharp ridge of the Skalisko to the east, until the shoulder named Tri Cholare. In reality it is not so simple. The ridge is not sharp edged and narrow, like on big mountains. It is wide, sometimes even more than 100 meters, and there is lots of vegetation like trees, bushes, long grass, etc. There is no clear overview, so it can very well be that according to the map I need to walk 100% east, but in reality I have to go some hundreds of meters northeast followed by a section to the southeast. The descent from the Skalisko is well to do, although the many chopped trees that are blocking the path force me to make many d-tours. The weather is not so good; it is cold, there is a lot of overcast and sometimes it starts to drizzle and rain. At a small junction in the woods called Sedlo Krive I am not concentrated and I take the wrong direction. I find out five minutes later and go back, no big deal. Except that the hill in the direction where I should be going is completely ruined; the path vanishes into the forrest ground, all trees have been chopped and crushed. I walk a few times up and down the hill but I am not able to find any possbility to move on, or even any indication where to go to. I decide to go back to the point where I found out I was going the wrong direction, half an hour before, and make a short cut through the fields and woods to the other side of the hill. The first part of the short cut is well to do, but after a few minutes the soil gets wet and soft. Carefully walking up the hill it gets less steep, but in return the soil starts to look more like a indeep marsh. On the top of the sloop that I am climbing the visibility is poor again, due to the fog. Once I get to the other side of the hill, still carefully putting my feet on the “ground” I see a forrest ahead of me. This means fixed soil and dry feet, and I move in that direction, slowly step by step, to try to keep the water from floating my shoes. According to the map I should be heading straight for a path that is marked with yellow signs, but nowhere I can see any sign or indication that there could be a path or road. After 10 minutes I approach the first trees of the forrest, and all of a sudden I am standing on a forrest road, with yellow signs left and right of me. I am completely surprised, and happy! I follow the road to the south, and after only 100 meters I bump into the red/white signs of the Trail! Unbelievable that I was so close to the path, or where it was supposed to be, and that I was fighting through the bush and swamp! Without more complications I arrive at the Uhornianske Sedlo, where the Trail crosses the regular road. The Slovaks told me last night that the following section, to Stoss-Kupele, is also in “heavy condititions”. Considering i) the condition of the section that I have just finished ii) the fact that the signs are in very poor quality iii) that I am alone iv) my feet are soaken wet v) it rains and the visibility is poor, I decide to choose for health & safety and I will follow the regular road through Uhorna and Smolnik and catch up with the Trail at Stoske Sedlo. It is not a shortcut as there are many curves and turns in the road. The first section, down to Uhorna, is very steep for cars, and regular steep for hikers.

steep hill

After a few minutes of descending the trees on the right hand side have made way for a meadow, that allows some nice views into the valley and the low hanging clouds. I hear some mooing sounds behind me, like from a cow. My first thought is that it is much too steep here for cows to walk around. I turn around and see some 20 meters behind me a big deer jumping from the uphill side out of the trees on the road. Without stopping it turns its head in my direction and then jumps immediately off the road, downhill onto the meadow. It is being followed within a second by a huge wolf! I am startled and walk to the edge of the road to see if I can see how this piece of natural behaviour ends, but I can’t see any of them anymore. Without any other excitement I pass the small village Uhorna, where I have a break for some mueslibars as a late breakfast. It is raining constantly now but there’s no wind, so as long as I’m moving I’m warm. Following the easy road I pass the suburbs of Smolnik.

Smolnik

At the junction I follow the road uphill to Stoske Sedlo. At this point I pick up the Trail again. The signs are clear and it’s easy to follow them to Stos-Kupele, where I arrive at 11.10am.

Stos-Kupele is a very small village isolated on a hill at the end of road from Stos. On weekend days, like today, it is not easy to escape from Stos-Kupele. There’s a bus at 11.51 to the east to Kosice, and a bus at 11.57 to Spisska Nova Ves in the north. From both locations I can travel back to Bratislava easily. As I have always been trying at the end of all my E8-stages to travel backwards home, I choose for the 11.57 bus to Spisska Nova Ves, as I will not be crossing unknown territory by doing so. I will arrive in Kosice along the E8 in one or two stages from now. The first bus passes by at 11.50 without stopping. I get ready by putting my wet shoes on again, and folding my raincape into my backpack. At 11.58 the next bus stops. It turns out to be the 11.51 service to Kosice. The first bus was the bus that I was supposed to be in, but it was 8 minutes early. When I tell this to the driver he looks like he cannot do anything about this situation. “Ees toet mier leit”, he says, appologizing on behalf of the bus company and his collegue. Having no other option I take the bus to Kosice, and from there the first train to Bratislava. I don’t leave the bus & railway station to go into town or so. I am not supposed to be here, yet.

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Telgart – Skalisko

Stage   no. 66
Date Friday 1 July 2011
Distance stage      42,0 km
Distance acum. 2491,5 km
Quality of signs very bad!
Quality of the hike D (not so good): great views and undisturbed nature is followed by many times crossing directly through woods and fields, path hidden or not existing

Today is the second day of my three-day hiking trip. During the night I was able to dry my clothes and shoes after yesterday’s drowning experience.

I leave just before 4.00am, before sunrise, as the first kilometers are along the regular road up to the pass Sedlo Besnik. Exactly when the daylight breaks the night I arrive at the pass and go right into the woods. The weather turns out the very nice in the early moning; clear blue sky, temperature still low, the forrests awakening. I enter now the area that is named Slovakian Paradise. It is a national parc, with small hills, hardly any infrastructure and lots of peace and silence. Wonderfull! I see many animals, haze, deer and even wild horses. After approx. 18 kilometers the Trail leaves the lovely nature and crosses the road between Dobsina and Dobsinska Lavoda. There is a nice window between the trees to the village of Dedinky and its lake.

Dobsina and its lake

Shortly after I arrive at the Dobsinsky Kopec, where some local roads are crossing. Until this point the signs along the Trail were good. At this crossing I follow a sign that indicates some jumping and crawling to continue on the other side of a gutter. After ten minutes I am stuck between bush and no indication of any path, I realize I am on the wrong way and I go back. It turns out the road sign should be read as “first 80 meters in the other direction, and then to the left”. It’s not ruining my good mood. Looking back to where I come from the peak of the Kál’ova Hola is still attracting the clouds and bad weather, just like yesterday.

looking back to the Král’ova Hola

I continue crossing the forrest along gentle hills. At one point the path that the Trail uses gets lost in the woods on a crossing of 6 roads. I try most of them with no avail and decide to follow the compass, straight through the wood and the bushes. I enter into a field with grass up to 1.20 meters height and I see in the far distance a sign that is painted on a tree. I am on the right track again. Some 20 minutes before I should arrive on the pass Pod Stromisom the signs on the Trail indicate in a different direction than what I expect and where the map shows me to go. I decide to disregard the signs and to follow the map; at least then I know where I am going to. There are no more signs in the next 1.5 kilometers. I check the map and the compass continuously and I realise that this road, and its direction, are not on my map. I decide to go back to the unexpected junction and go the way that is indicated. The Trail goes east, and crosses a plain valley to end up on the ridge. Of course there are no signs for more than a kilometer. Following the compass I make sure where exactly I am on the map and than I decide to make a shortcut through the wood straight to where I expect the Trail to be. After three minutes only I cross indeed the Trail, clearly marked. Altogether I have lost more than one hour in this small section of the stage. I follow the Trail uneventfull to the Sedlo Sulova, where the Trail crosses the regular road. There is a complete set of signs on the Sedlo for all paths that cross this point of the road, except the sign indicating in the direction where I am going to; it has been removed. Using the map I find the red-white signs easily enough and follow my way. A few minutes later the wood lightens up as I approach a section of the hills where all trees have been chopped. I pass a few junctions where no signs can be found. Walking up and down a bit, trying to find a clue where to go to I loose again time and energy. It’s not fun anymore, to walk this stage. Further up the hill many trees have been crushed and leftovers are covering the entire hill side including the path and make it next to invisible.

difficult to find the way

I arrive at Sedlo Volovec, just below the peak of the Skalisko hill. The signs here are clear and I hope I can follow them easily towards the peak. Unfortunately, the signs stop in the woods, the path ends at some point halfway the peak and I have to use my compass again to find the direction again. The weather is not so nice anymore, by now. There are many clouds, the wind has started blowing again, and it’s chilly. The top of the Skalisko looks like a huge plains of some hundreds of square meters. All of a sudden a 10 meters high rock appears from the fogg, which is the real peak of the hill.

From here I follow the green signs to the southwest where I arrive after 10 minutes in the refuge Chata Volovec. It’s 5.15pm. Fortunately the refuge is open, there is a keeper who prepares a simple dinner for me; again bread with sausages and soup and omelet. It’s enough, the taste is good and it’s cheap.

at the Chata Volovec

After dinner two more hikers arrive in the refuge. They are Slovaks and they have started 8 days ago the Slovakian part of the E8 at the Polish border. They follow the Trail in the oposite direction, from east to west. The amazing aspect of their trip is that one of the guys is completely blind! We exchange experiences of our stages of today. They tell me that the stage that I am planning for tomorrow is also dominated by missing signs and paths that end in the middle of nowhere. “We had to use all our eyes to move on”, the blind guy says. Also in some sections many trees have been chopped or crushed. The remainders are blocking the path as well which can create difficult situations for hikers. I go to bed early. Tomorrow is going to be another tough day.

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